René Sacasas, professor and chair of the Business Law Department who built a distinguished career in academia and service over his 30 years at the University of Miami’s School of Business Administration, has been appointed to the new position of University faculty ombudsperson.
“This newly created position follows the recommendation of the Committee on Women and Minorities of the Faculty Senate, and was developed in close consultation with the leadership of the Faculty Senate,’’ Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc said in announcing Sacasas’s appointment.
“Professor Sacasas has served the University of Miami with distinction for many years, and has exhibited the ideal qualities for an ombudsperson: wisdom, compassion, and confidentiality,” LeBlanc continued. “As an initiative of our culture transformation, the University faculty ombudsperson will provide faculty with a confidential avenue for resolving problems and conflicts, and hopefully help to create a ‘culture of belonging’ for all faculty.”
Sacasas, a long-serving member of the Faculty Senate, is specifically charged with helping individual faculty or groups of faculty explore their options for resolving conflicts, problematic issues, or concerns, and bringing systemic concerns to the attention of the appropriate unit or academic leader for resolution.
The 2015 recipient of the James W. McLamore Outstanding Service Award and a member of Iron Arrow, Sacasas said he was honored to be given the opportunity to serve his colleagues and the University in this new position.
“The essential basis of the shared governance model between the faculty and administration at the University of Miami is founded upon the ideals of mutual trust and fairness,” Sacasas said. “The new position of University ombudsperson was created for and dedicated to the support of those goals. As ombudsperson, I will serve the University’s faculty community by acting as an independent, impartial, informal, and confidential resource to assist all faculty with their questions and concerns outside of the formal conflict resolution systems of the University.”
Sacasas, who grew up in Miami swimming at the UM pool and attending Hurricanes football games in the Orange Bowl, joined the UM faculty in 1985 as an assistant professor in the Business Law Department. A year later, he became one of the first faculty fellows at Eaton Residential College, later serving as an associate master at Mahoney Residential College from 1990 to 1993. In 1995 Sacasas returned to the residential college system as headmaster for Hecht Residential College. During that time, he counseled and mentored thousands of students as well as numerous faculty members who served in residential college roles.
During his 25 years as chair, the Business Law Department doubled in size, increased faculty diversity, created several new programs, including a cross-disciplinary initiative in real estate, and became one of the top ten undergraduate business law programs in the United States, as ranked by Business Week.
He also will work with Professor Norman H. Altman, the Miller School of Medicine’s faculty ombudsman. Altman, a professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology, will continue to oversee the majority of cases at the medical school. However, Sacasas and Altman can each serve as a backup for each other and, where conflicts arise, will be a resource for the other.